6 Dec, 10:47
Ireland will take on South Africa, Australia and a leading European Tier 2 nation at the Aviva Stadium during the GUINNESS Series in November 2014.
The tourists arrive in the Free State capital from Cape Town today (Thursday) with the knowledge they have their best chance yet to win a series against the hosts. 'If it wasn't for injuries we would have had the perfect backline' They're the Triple Crown champions and have arguably been the best Test side in world rugby over the last year."
Whether they do actually achieve the remarkable feat will depend largely on who wins the battle in midfield, where the classy Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy come up against South Africa's Julies and Joubert.
It's a contest that's lost much of its edge in the wake of big-tackling De Wet Barry being ruled out of the game, but it still promises to be pivotal as to how the match will unfold.
Captain O'Driscoll will win his 51st cap on Saturday and against his combination with D'Arcy, Julies and Joubert face a gargantuan task. The visiting midfielders are fleet-footed, balanced and a powerful combination who play together for Leinster. Julies and Joubert, while having played for Boland years ago, are not a settled unit.
"If it wasn't for injuries we would have had the perfect backline," said Coetzee on Thursday. Percy Montgomery, Ashwin Willemse, Jaque Fourie (who is now on the bench) and Barry have all been sidelined because of injury. "Losing De Wet is a massive blow, but Wayne brings other dimensions and a different perspective to the team," said Coetzee.
"Wayne is getting another bite at the cherry and while the Irish are definitely favourites, it's important for us to do well against them so we know exactly where we stand in world rugby."
The Boks seem to have worked out a number of flaws in the brilliant O'Driscoll/D'Arcy combination, and while not giving anything away, Coetzee did reveal a little of what he believed was the best way of containing the Irish centres. "Until recently D'Arcy was actually a winger, so he's a bit vulnerable in certain areas," said Coetzee.
White added: "He's a good player as is O'Driscoll, who's got a great step, but I think too much is being made of D'Arcy. "O'Driscoll has got plenty of pace and he's also got a low centre of gravity which makes him a tough customer," said Coetzee, "and both men revel in space.
"So it'll be up to Wayne and Marius to shut them down from the start by limiting their space and hitting them hard with some telling tackles," added the backline coach.
Stopping the man they call "the Bod" and D'Arcy will also depend on flyhalf Jaco van der Westhuyzen, who, together with Julies, will play a key role in protecting the inside channel. "I played with Wayne at under-21 and under-23 level and know him well. We've always worked well together and I have a high regard for him," said Van der Westhuyzen.
Jacques van der Westhuyzen - The Star (SA).